Friday, September 17, 2021
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Sheldon Stephenson

Temptation

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I once saw a picture of a monkey sitting against a tree that stood on the edge of a cliff. Above the monkeys head was a branch and hanging on the end of that branch was a big bunch of beautiful ripe bananas. The problem: The bananas hung over the edge of the cliff. The monkey was being tempted by the bananas but if he actually tried to grab them he’d fall off the cliff and die.

I know that we have all been in a similar position at some point in our lives. Whether we kept our wits and stayed on the mountain or whether we took a chance at grabbing those bananas, temptations will continue to come.

The definition of temptation is this

something that causes a strong urge or desire to have or do something and especially something that is bad, wrong, or unwise.

The struggle is real

There are so many things that we could be tempted by in this world. Our friends could tempt us to do things we know we shouldn’t. This is especially prevalent in school or college where peer pressure is a serious struggle for many children or young adults alike. We could be tempted by our own mind – with the way sex is portrayed in this generation, anyone struggling with issues of pornography are bombarded with sexual images everywhere and those triggers can be a real source of temptation. Same with alcohol and drugs. We could also be tempted to commit a crime – maybe robbery – when our financial struggles seem to be mounting. We could be tempted by promises of fortune and fame. The list is endless.

The problem I have seen with people, and this included myself until I knew better, is that people never like to take responsibility for their bad choices but will always put the blame on anything else. I have even heard people say: “Why is God tempting me like this?” If they are not blaming God then they will have a myriad of other excuses as to why they fell prey to their temptations.

But check this out:

Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.  Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death. James 1:13-15

God knows

One thing we can be grateful for is the fact that we have a wonderful counselor who has himself been tempted and who has overcome temptation. When we are weak, his strength is made perfect in our weakness and when we feel alone in our struggles we can know that he himself has been through the same. Jesus was tempted by Satan but unlike Eve or King David, he overcame his tempter and Jesus can help you overcome your temptations as well.

For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. Hebrews 2:18

Remember, temptation comes from Satan and in James  chapter 4 and verse 7 we are told

So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

To anyone struggling with daily temptations, I know it’s easier to just give in and allow the darkness to win. I know! It feels good to sin, but the cost is much more than that moment of pleasure is worth and there is no pleasure in being weighed down by the debt that you will accrue.

If you want to find real strength in your times of weakness and temptation, I urge you to click on the link below or on the pop-up. We would love to help you on this epic journey.

Your life will never be the same again!

 

When Life Seems To Be Coming Apart At The Seams.

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How many moments in your life can you recall where everything seemed to be coming apart at the seams? Maybe it’s only a few times or maybe it’s been a few times too many. Either way, it’s never pleasant or easy when we feel like everything is coming undone and we’re hopeless and burdened.

We are all only human and hopefully we can be honest enough with ourselves to admit that we have had moments in our lives where we lost the plot. If you never have, good on you, but I am quite certain that none of us has ever been that perfect.

We’ve all been there

Recently I felt like things were falling apart in my life, I was stressed out, and feeling lost. I didn’t quite know what was happening with me, but I was coming undone.  Filled with feeling of shame and guilt because I had been the one giving many people advice on how to handle life’s pressures and now I seemed to be succumbing to life’s pressures myself.  I found myself going against all my own advice until I remembered to turn to God and lay it all down at his feet.

Even though I felt like everything was crumbling around me I knew that I would only find comfort by affirming both God’s absolute sovereignty and His unfailing love. He has my back and He knows what is best and no matter what, He can turn any terrible experience into something that ultimately benefits us.

‘And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.’ Romans 8:28

Not all bad news

Maybe you are struggling with alcohol or drugs and your life is becoming unmanageable. You might be finding yourself in situations that you would never normally or you have done something you regret. Maybe you are struggling in your marriage or another relationship. It could be that you have financial issues or your children are into things you know are destroying them. The list of things that could potentially unravel us is endless. The good new is that there is a God who is timeless and he has called us to come and lay all our burdens on Him and His promise is that He will give you rest.

In Matthew 11:28 Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

Isn’t that just the most awesome thing to hear. No matter what you are going through. No matter how useless, hopeless or broken you may feel right now, you have the opportunity to bring all those burdens to Jesus and he has promised to replace your pain with peace. Who wouldn’t want to experience that?

Giving up an opportunity like this is like giving up an offer of a parachute in a crashing plane. It makes no sense why anyone would deny themselves that kind of opportunity.

So if you want to grab an opportunity of a lifetime, click the pop-up or link below and allow yourself to find a peace that will change your life forever.

 

Time to get dirty.

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I love the forest – It’s peaceful and quiet and the smell of flowers and pine trees bring back many childhood memories for me. These days I often take my children to the forest to run and climb trees. We play and swim in the mountain streams. It’s one of my favourite places to be. I feel a sense of home when I am in the forest.

The other day, my son and I were admiring the trees and flowers in our garden and my son asked me to explain how a seed grows into a flower or tree. I had to go do some research as my school days are a bit of a blur but once I had the correct info I was able to sit and explain the amazing processes required in order for that seed to become a beautiful, flower-bearing plant.

Here’s what I found…

Seeds have a hard shell and underneath that hard shell is everything it needs to become all that it was made to be.

The problem is this – if the seed just sits there in the bag or on the table, it will stay a seed and will never achieve its full potential. Even if you put that seed into the dirt it will not grow if it does not receive water and light.

For the seed to begin its journey it must first be placed in dirt, it then needs to be given the sufficient light and water it needs in order for the hard shell of the seed to be softened which in turn makes it possible for the first root to break through. That first root enables the seed to take in extra water and nutrients from the earth which leads to a stem with curled leaves to break through the top layer of dirt. With the sun shining on the leaves, the stem and leaves begin to grow. The leaves convert the energy from the sun into the food needed by the plant for growth. Finally, the plant will be fully grown with beautiful flowers.

Water and light

I found something very interesting regarding light and water while I was reading through the Bible and it really blew my mind. Jesus claimed to be the light of the world and the living water.

Check out these profound verses.

John 8:12Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 4:14Jesus said, “Everyone who drinks this water will get thirsty again and again. Anyone who drinks the water I give will never thirst—not ever. The water I give will be an artesian spring within, gushing fountains of endless life.”

It’s easy to see the beautiful correlation between how seeds grow and how we would grow if we had the correct source of nutrition and the correct understanding of what is needed to be all we were made to be. You see, I used to be a hard seed and I had been lying on a table for many years, then I was put into the dirt but I was wasting my time. Since reading about how seeds grow and reading the verses above, I came to an amazing realization.

The realization.

I am the hard coated seed, and I needed, firstly, the dirt (which I equate to the struggles and heartaches I’ve endured in life) in order for my growth to begin. Hardships in life help us grow. Without dirt, we would never even notice our need for water and light.

Secondly I needed Jesus because he said he was the light of the world and the source of living water. Once I found Jesus, things began to change and my roots began to grow.  As I have grown I have come to rely on Jesus as my source of growth and as my source of nutrition. He alone sustains me and just like a flower, if either the light or the water were to stop, so would my growth and I would eventually wither up and die.

As time passes and if the water and light source is reliably constant, we will see our true potential fulfilled.

It’s only natural to conclude that maybe it’s time for us to allow the dirt of our lives to give us the ground we need in order to grow, but to also keep in mind that it’s the water and the light that will change us and allow us to fulfill our true potential.

If you feel your potential and purpose is not being fully realized, maybe it’s because you are lacking the source of light and water. If you would like to find your source and become all you were made to be, then I encourage you to either click on the pop-up or the link below.

Let your growth begin… You will not regret it.

Everything is temporary…. the good… AND the not so good.

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I am a musician – (well at least in my own head I am.) I have had some beautiful guitars and other musical gear over the last few years and actually, it was a picture of my old gear that sparked the idea for this blog. I saw all my guitars, amps and effects pedals and I wondered how I have had so much once upon a time and now am left with only an acoustic guitar and nothing else. Isn’t that exactly how life is – one day you’re up and the next you’re down?

Looking back over my life I realise I have had many things to be grateful for and I have also lost a lot of things because of a variety of reasons.

Mountains and valley

In life, we will face it all – the ups and downs, the love and heartache, peace and stress, happiness and sadness. Every one of us on this planet will experience it all and it doesn’t matter how important you think you are, or how rich you might be – those things do not make any difference when it comes to life happening. Life continues to throw mountains in our paths – It’s how we react that determines whether we survive or not.

This is actually a great revelation because it can help us understand what is happening when the world seems to be crumbling underneath our feet.

Timing is everything

I was comforted by this verse the other day when thinking about life and how we can believe we have it all figured out. Then it all goes pear-shaped and you realise you do not have anything figured out. Instead you are just constantly readjusting your strategy as you zig and zag through life’s unpredictable moments.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Everything Has Its Time

3 To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:A time to be born, And a time to die; A time to plant, And a time to pluck what is planted; A time to kill, And a time to heal; A time to break down, And a time to build up; A time to weep, And a time to laugh; A time to mourn, And a time to dance; A time to cast away stones, And a time to gather stones; A time to embrace, And a time to refrain from embracing;A time to gain, And a time to lose; A time to keep, And a time to throw away;A time to tear, And a time to sew; A time to keep silence, And a time to speak; A time to love, And a time to hate; A time of war, And a time of peace.

The great thing is that when we get this revelation – that there is a time for everything and that nothing is guaranteed to go the way you want it to go – we can (better) accept when we have it all and when we lose it all.

Valuable lesson

Paul caught this revelation and knew that no matter what happened, he could and would choose to be content. Check out what Paul said:

11 Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. 12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. 13 For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength. – Philippians 4: 11-13

See that Paul says in verse 11 that he has learned to be content. That shows me that this is a skill that we need to be quite intentional about honing. You see, we humans in our finite wisdom and ability, always tend to stress out when we feel like the ground is beginning to crumble under our feet. The trick is to learn how to be content regardless of the situation you may be facing.  After all, material things come and go and have little or no meaning or importance when held up in comparison to your life or the life of a loved one. We all want the best for our families and our life, but that is never guaranteed.  Instead we should really make it our aim to learn to be content no matter what situation we find ourselves in, knowing that God is in control and that He has a great plan for all of our lives.

If you have not yet felt the feeling of Gods strength taking over from the point where your weakness begins to cause you to fall, I pray that you will. Nothing but Gods love and power is guaranteed in this life. There is nothing that compares to the feeling of peace you receive when you call out to Him and acknowledge your need for Him in every situation in your life.

If you’d like to chat more or find out more about Gods love and peace, please click the pop-up or link below. You’ll be glad you did.

Your life will never be the same again.

Don’t be distracted by the drama

Distractions are everywhere. There are many things happening around the world today. There are great things happening and there are terrible things happening. It’s been that way since the beginning of time.

We all know that the news, whether it be papers, television or online, always only ever covers the terrible things but it somehow seems that the world is getting more and more crazy, twisted and evil.

I myself have stopped watching and reading the news – My reason for doing so is because it depressed me and made me anxious and stressed out. We as humans can only take so much negativity before it starts affecting us is terrible ways.

Another reason why I no longer watch or read any news is because these days a person never knows what is true or what is just made up propaganda to help boost sales.

There are so many different views, theories and opinions that it’s become quite difficult to sift through all the garbage and find what is actual truth. Politics, race wars, religious bigotry and so forth, all have the power to hold our attention.  It’s important to realise though, that where there is evil there is also good, where there is darkness there is also light and where there is fear and hate there is also perfect love and perfect love drives out all fear.

Finding focus

We need to focus on one thing and one thing only and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. We cannot allow these distractions to cause us to focus on all of the drama. Instead, we should be out there loving the lost and spreading the Gospel which is Good News!

I have found myself on many occasions being sucked into conspiracy theories regarding the Illuminati; conspiracies regarding world leaders, governments and their plans for a controlled one world government. I have been sucked in by the wars and threats of wars and I have felt the fears not only for myself and my future but for my families safety.

This fear and worry does nothing to help me in my life and so I have recently come to realise that no matter what ultimately happens, there is nothing that any of us can do to stop it. We are not big enough to change the course this world is busy traveling down and in actual fact, this course is an inevitable one.

Having said all that, I know God is in control and although He will allow all of mankind to make their own choices, in the end He has already won the game.

You and I can both see that the world has become filled with hatred and every kind of evil imaginable. It is completely full of vile and soul crushing evil. People lost – a world of selfishness – a society in complete moral decay; complete darkness.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Second Timothy 3:1-5

One job

As a Christian, I have been called to love God, love others and to share the Gospel and try bring as many people as possible to the knowledge of and belief in Christ Jesus, regardless of the cost to my own life. If we believe the things we say we believe then we should all be running around screaming from the rooftops.

Not judging and rejecting and damning, but rather loving accepting and walking a journey with anyone who needs Christ and who would love a changed life now and freedom from the wrath that is to come. God has offered us all eternal life through His Son Jesus and yet it seems no one wants to grab onto His gift – His grace and mercy! Strange don’t you think.

You see, the problems in this world will only get worse. Jesus has already given us the breakdown of how this all plays out and it’s not going to be pretty and it is unavoidable.

“For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.” Matthew 24:21-22 

So I have decided to put all the distractions aside and to rather focus on the mission at hand. I have decided to immerse myself in Jesus and spend as much time as I can in His presence in order for me to grow deeper in my faith.

If you are tired of running – if you are tired of fear and anxiety gripping your life or if you have been distracted for far too long and want to find freedom from it all, I encourage you to click the pop up or link and chat to someone. Trust me, your life will never be the same again!

Living in the past will destroy your future

As a parent, I have been quite adamant about wanting to show my children all the great old movies that I once enjoyed as a child. I am sure that I’m not the only parent who does this. The problem though is this – the movies that I once watched as a child and remember to be incredibly awesome are actually not that impressive today as they may have been 30 years ago.

Seriously, especially some of the old school TV series like The A-Team or MacGyver or the terrifying “V” series. Watching them now has ruined the great memories I had of them. A few movies are still pretty cool to watch but again, many of them have left me wishing I had left them in the past.

Let sleeping dogs lie

This got me thinking about life and how the same rule can apply. Some things just need to be left in the past. There are some who may have had a terrible past – a terrible childhood growing up and there are others who may have had a wonderful past or childhood growing up.  The truth is that no matter which one you had, it is still the past. When we get hung up on the past we can create an environment of either wishful thinking or regret within our present or future life.  This can become a barrier which holds us back from living in the present moment.

Here are two thoughts that came to my mind when I was pondering the whole idea of leaving the past in the past.

  1. People living in the past struggle to let things go: This is aimed at those people who have had a negative past experience. Maybe you lived through abuse as a child, maybe you were bullied at school or didn’t have a very happy family life. It’s possible that in your teens you became unhinged and went through a period where you made many terrible mistakes because of stupid and bad choices – choices that you began to regret as you grew older. The truth is that the only way you are going to enable yourself to move forward from these things in your life is to deal with them. You must choose to get the help you need in order to move forward rather than allowing these negative things from your past to keep you held back in anger, remorse and unforgiveness.
  1. People living in the past struggle to accept change: This is aimed at those people who had a wonderfully positive past. Maybe you had a great strong family and enjoyed many amazing family vacations together. Maybe you were the popular one in school – you played first team sports. These are the people you meet who continue to wish for the “good old days”. The truth is, this group can become just as stuck as the ones who had negative experiences. Continually wishing for the good old days keeps you from accepting the change that is inevitable.

I actually fall into both of these categories above and there are probably many of you out there who also do. I had a wonderful family life and a wonderful childhood, but my teenage years were terribly difficult to navigate and I ended up making many terrible mistakes.

I did a lot of really stupid and even dangerous things and I hurt a lot of people, especially loved ones. After years of searching for meaning, I finally found truth in God and I learned some deeper truths about life and purpose.

This helped me come to the realisation that I am not the sum total of my past mistakes and I can change if I choose to.

There is a stupid saying that we have all surely heard at least one or twice. I actually hate it because it gives people an excuse to stay stuck in their bad behaviours – an excuse to never change themselves or their lives for the better.

“A leopard cannot change its spots”.

In some regards this is true, like I cannot change my eye colour from blue to brown, well I could but it would take special contact lenses to achieve that change – I am not talking about those kinds of changes though but rather about when I hear people say this about behavioural issues – I disagree completely. People can change and I know many people who have changed their behaviours which in turn has changed their lives around. I myself am proof that people can change but only if they choose to.  It all comes down to letting go of the past and allowing yourself the freedom to forgive yourself or others.

I found that in learning that I was forgiven by God, I was more motivated to forgive myself and others from my past.  It was then that I was able to enjoy my present life and create a new future.

If this post spoke to you or if you are feeling stuck in the past and would like to find freedom, I encourage you to click the link or the pop-up banner. We’d love to help you find a better future.

Mistakes and regret

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Have you ever made a mistake that you regret?

Many people may sit with deep regret festering in their hearts and minds from past mistakes. Mistakes that feel so terrible, so stupid, that those who made them, seem to believe that they will never be able to forgive themselves.

I am sure I am not the only person who has made mistakes in my life that I really regret.

The silver lining

The truth is that often mistakes can become the greatest lessons in our lives. Here are three important things to remember about mistakes:

  1. Mistakes can become lessons from which we grow
  2. Mistakes do not have to keep you from moving forward
  3. Mistakes do not have to hold you back from your true potential

Getting everything right all the time is impossible. We need to take our mistakes in our stride and use them as an opportunity to learn. If you look at your mistakes in context of the lessons you have learnt from them, the picture becomes much more positive.

There are two great examples of mistake makers in the Bible and there are two great lessons we can learn from the way each of the characters in these stories dealt with their mistake and the consequential regret.

These examples are the stories of Judas and Peter; the disciples of Jesus. Both accounts can be found in Luke 22.

Judas’ mistake started with greed.  He betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Judas was one of Jesus’ trusted of friends. Just think about it – he was the treasurer. You must be a well trusted and upstanding guy to be in charge of the treasury. So we can sort of understand how terrible he must have felt by what he had done.

Peter’s mistake began out of fear. Jesus had even warned Peter that he would deny him 3 times. This is the same Peter that was totally full on for Jesus. The same Peter who cut off the ear of one of the men sent to arrest Jesus. Can you imagine the regret and disgust he felt within himself when he realized that he had just denied Jesus – not only once but three times!

Both men had the same regrets I am sure. So, it is very interesting to see how each of them dealt with their mistakes so very differently.

Judas, in his regret went back to the Sanhedrin and threw the blood money on the floor acknowledging that what he had done was wrong. He felt so bad that he wanted nothing to do with this whole thing anymore. Judas was eaten up by regret of what he had done and he could not come to terms with it and so he ended up killing himself by hanging himself on a tree. You can see this account in Matthew 27.

Peter on the other hand finally came to understand grace and forgiveness through Jesus and that was the moment his life changed for good – A real, deep change that would take Peter through many trials and tribulations all the while proclaiming Jesus as Lord and Saviour.

He never again denied Jesus. He learned his lesson and grew from his mistake.

Peter had a full understanding of God’s forgiveness and with a renewed spirit he made it his mission to teach others about Jesus, forgiveness and grace – even unto his own death.

Judas unfortunately did not get the revelation of Jesus’ grace and forgiveness which could lead to a renewed and changed life.

We can choose today to let our past mistakes go, and we can ask for forgiveness from those whom we wronged and we can dust ourselves off and begin again creating a new ending to our story instead of allowing ourselves to wallow in regret – stuck forever in the past.

The lessons we learn from each of these characters is this, either we allow our mistakes to drive us mad with regret or we pick ourselves up, learn from our mistakes, ask for forgiveness and then change.

All I know is that Jesus can heal any pain that we may be suffering with over past regrets. Jesus will bring you to a place of renewal and forgiveness if you choose to allow Him to. If you are struggling with any regrets from mistakes made in the past, I invite you to click on the link or pop-up and find out more about how you can bring it to Jesus.

Trust me, your life will never be the same again.

To Hope and Dream

Hope is defined as the following:

  1. A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.

  2. A feeling of trust.

When we have hope, we have the courage and determination to move forward in what we believe is our true path. We can do this because that feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen and that feeling of trust keeps us in a positive mind-set. It encourages us and keeps us believing that we will succeed or overcome any and all obstacles which may endeavour to impede us on our journey. Losing hope will only lead to a place where darkness resides. There is never light at the end of hope because once hope dies so does all confidence and significance.

Not what I expected

I once dreamed of being something special. As children we all have big dreams and aspirations for our lives even if those dreams are of being a firefighter or a police man (which is what most boys dream of as youngsters.)

Sometimes though, life can be cruel – sometimes life’s curve balls can catch you off guard and you seem to be striking out – hurt and discouraged by all the terrible experiences you have suffered through. It’s in these moments where hope is a powerful ally.  While we still have hope, we can still dream and while we can still dream, we can still believe.  While we can still believe, we can be inspired to keep pressing forward with that feeling of trust – trust that this is not the end and that there is more.

When I reached my teenage years, I became completely derailed. I slowly got sucked into a world of alcohol and drug abuse. This only spiralled out of control leading me deeper down into the darkness of that world of dealers, gangsters and prostitution.

Was this my dream? No, it surely was not, yet this is where I found myself.  I was lost, scared and broken and I didn’t know how to claw my way out of this deep, dark pit – the more I tried the deeper I sank and that is because I had lost hope. Honestly, I had no way of ever getting out of my depression until I had found my hope.

I remember one morning, waking up and this thought of hopelessness hit me. Inside, I felt like a lion trapped in a cage at the zoo. I sought freedom to be who I was made to be, but felt so trapped and restrained by the cage I had built around myself. A cage built of addiction, fear, paranoia and depression. I felt sick in my soul and I knew this couldn’t be all my life was meant for – there had to be more. It was 10am and I was drunk and high again and listening to The Counting Crows and in a moment one line from a song hit me like a bag of bricks to the face and that line was this:

“For all the things you’re losing, You might as well resign yourself to try and make a change.”

Finding hope

You see, when you lose hope, you lose yourself. When you believe that nothing can help you out of whatever situation you find yourself in, that’s when you will fall victim to the lie that you are trapped forever. When you believe that nothing can change and that you will never be anything more than your failures; when you believe that you are in a hopeless situation, that is when you will find yourself lacking the determination, vision and drive to make the necessary changes that are needed to get you out of the hole and back onto solid ground.

My hope came that day. At first it was not easy, but the moment I started to dream again, I started to expect something wonderful would come my way. It was the moment that the flame of my hope was fanned back to life and I began to think differently. If hopelessness has you trapped and feeling sick in your heart, I want you to start dreaming again, to start believing again and hoping again because the bible tells us:

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.” – Proverbs 13:12-14

“Our days on earth are like a shadow, without hope.” – 1 Chronicles 29:15

The verses above say it all. Without hope our hearts will be sick and our days on Earth will be like a shadow. The good news is that shadows only exist where there is light.

Hope must survive in order for us to thrive.

If this piece spoke to you or encouraged you to take a step toward a new life filled with hope – a life where your dreams are no longer just fading into oblivion but rather float around in your head inspiring you to action, then I encourage you now to click on the link or pop-up. We would love to help you begin this journey of renewed hope.

Your life will never be the same again!

Don’t fall for this relationship death-trap

Have you ever heard of a carnivorous plant? There is one which I have recently become aware of: the Pitcher plant. Have you ever heard of or seen a Pitcher plant? They come in many different varieties and are quite an extraordinary plant. They grow in areas where the soil is deficient in nutrients and where the soil is too acidic for most other plants.

So how does the Pitcher plant get the nutrients it needs? Well it’s quite incredible: the pitcher plant forms its leaves into a cup shape. Inside these cups or pitchers is a small body of trapped water. The plants lure insects in by their beauty – the flowers can be visually attractive (but that’s not always the case) – and by secreting a sweet smelling nectar onto the rim of the cup. The nectar on the rim makes the rim extremely slippery, causing any insect gullible enough to be fooled by the sweet smells and sights of this deadly flower to fall down into the cup and into the water, where digestive fluids secreted by the plant finish the job.

Besides the water keeping the victim trapped, there are also downward facing hairs on the side walls that help ensure the victim does not escape. Many insects get seduced to their doom. Beautiful and deadly to those who seek to taste of its sweet nectar, the Pitcher plant takes what it needs from its victims and moves on.

This plant made me think of an experience I once had with a woman – beautiful, but deadly (and of course this doesn’t only apply to women – so watch out for those guys, ladies!). She lured me in with her sweet smelling nectar. Luckily for me, I managed to keep myself from falling into the cup but I had been drawn in and I had been on that slippery rim. I had been extremely close to falling in when I came to my senses and even though nothing physical ever happened with this other woman, I had caused a deep wound within my wife and within my marriage.

Adultery can be as simple as just walking the rim of a Pitcher plant, yet never falling in. But walking the rim and not falling in is the exception, rather than the rule. Most of the time, the fall is inevitable.

“For the lips of an immoral/adulterous woman are as sweet as honey and her mouth is smoother than oil. But in the end she is as bitter as poison, as dangerous as a double-edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave.”

This verse in Proverbs 5:3-5 gives us quite a clear picture of just how dangerous it is to play around with an adulterous and immoral person. Here are some hard truths you can take away with you that could keep you from becoming “plant food”.

  1. Adultery really does become a trap: Most married men, once they’ve had an affair, wish that they could go back to their wife and kids, but often the wife is unable to get over the severe hurt and betrayal of her trust. This is true for women who get caught up in affairs as well. The damage is done, and trust, once broken, is the hardest of things to restore. There is always hope for reconciliation – but it’s not the kind of scenario you want to find yourself in in the first place.
  1. Most relationships formed out of adultery don’t last long: The statistics show that most relationships that start out of adultery do not last more than two years. That is because the relationship was initiated on the basis of lust and sex, and not on a firm foundation that will form a healthy, stable, and long-lasting relationship. Most times, paranoia destroys the relationship. Each party will constantly be questioning the other’s loyalty – after all, the entire relationship began through an act of disloyalty.
  1. Blackmailed: If the person in the affair has managed to keep it a secret, and no one knows a thing about it, the “other woman” or “other man” has a hold. This makes it very hard to break off the relationship, because if there is a decision to break it off, the other partner could use blackmail to keep things going. Threatening to “spill the beans” could prolong an adulterous relationship.
  1. Adultery affects everyone: It is not only the marriage partner and kids that are destroyed by adultery. The person who starts the adulterous relationship gets destroyed, along with the “other” man or woman. No one ever walks away better off. Family bonds are destroyed as well. Everything changes. This is exactly why adultery is such a key weapon that Satan uses. He loves seeing that nuclear bomb go off – destroying families and the lives of everyone involved.

Don’t be like those stupid insects who are lured in by sweet smelling nectar and pretty looks. Maybe you have been married for a few years now and life has become dull and not at all how you thought it ought to be… To you I say beware, for that sweet nectar may seem even more intriguing in times where marital issues are more evident.

If you are struggling with a situation that seems like a trap, the best possible way out is by speaking the truth. Darkness cannot defeat the light. Cast light on what is happening, be truthful, and the darkness will flee. If you would like to find out more or need someone to chat to, please click the pop-up or link below.

Profiting from trials

This piece may challenge some people and it could help many who are going through challenges or trials right now in their lives. Would you believe it if I said that we are the ones who profit from our trials?

In 2014, my wife and I went through the pain and heartache of losing our baby through miscarriage. That was the first part of a two-part drama that was going to unfold in our lives.

She was almost halfway into the pregnancy when we lost our daughter. My wife had to go through labour and the birthing process and we were both left disillusioned and heartbroken.

For four years we had served in our church, and we both had a deep faith. After the loss of our baby I found my faith, suddenly, dangling by a thread. It felt like all that remained of that once burning fire was now just a dying ember. After all, I had prayed vehemently for God to save our baby, but we still lost her.

I was so mad at God and I was drifting away from Him until the day He spoke to me.

All He said was: “Do not allow the enemy to be right about you.”

A few days later, I felt inspired to read the story of Job in the Bible. In this strange wager between God and Satan, Satan basically accuses Job of only being faithful to God because he was wonderfully blessed and had never experienced any hardships; then Satan tells God that the only reason Job worships Him is because He continually blesses Job. Satan then tells God that if He were to send a few trials Job’s way, that Job would curse Him and no longer worship Him.

I had read the story of Job before, but somehow this time as I read it I could visualise it all – it was more relevant since losing our baby; more real.

It was while reading it that it dawned on me what God’s words to me meant: “Do not allow the enemy to be right about you!”. These words rang in my head like a bell. My authenticity as a believer was being questioned, and now that I understood what was happening, my resolve was strengthened by that understanding.

I made a decision then and there that I would not turn on God no matter what happened in my life. After all my relationship with God is not based on how much He blesses me, right?

Second test

A week after the loss of our unborn child, tragedy struck again. It was Father’s Day (a tough day after what I had just been through) and at around midnight my wife started screaming in pain. She ended up in hospital again but this time it was her life hanging in the balance. An unknown cyst – the one that had burst a week earlier, killing our baby and poisoning my wife’s bloodstream – had resulted in a very serious and nightmarish rush against time. She was now in the final stages of septicaemia (organ failure) and death. Doctors told me no-one ever survives this level of infection. So, with my resolve newly intact I began to consider the reality that was laying before me – another test?

I began to pray. I asked everyone I knew to pray. I was not going to give up that easily. Then a miracle happened: My wife survived what seemed an impossible situation. The doctors were amazed and confused as to how she survived. I wasn’t confused at all. I knew that God had come through. A miracle had occurred – this was also the sentiment of the doctors who had worked on my wife. Even they said that they had nothing to do with her recovery, because in their minds, she was not going to pull through. In the operation, my wife lost her womb and ovaries. We could never again have children naturally. Man, was I disillusioned and angry. Why did this happen to us?

This question is asked by many people every day… Why does God allow good people to suffer? Why didn’t God fix everything?

The thing that I have come to realise is that in times of trial, some people decide to blame God, and turn their backs on Him. Some people dig deeper into their faith and draw closer to God and rely on Him to strengthen them and get them through.

I had a profound thought the other night: My faith was never weakened by my trials, but rather strengthened. My relationship with God and my faith and understanding of Him all grew to a much deeper level due to all that I had been through.

The problem in today’s Christian society is that many are taught that God wants to bless you abundantly and I agree, to a certain degree. Yes, God does want to bless us, but there is a fine line between the “prosperity gospel” and the truth. People that believe God only ever wants to bless them will find it very difficult to understand God when trials do come their way – when heartache, loss and pain befall them, how would they reconcile the God of the prosperity gospel with all the trials they are facing and that many millions of believers are facing and have faced around the world? They would not be able to!

These beliefs can produce nothing more than weak Christians who will fall away at the slightest misfortune, but James gives us truth and encouragement.

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles of any kind come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. 3 For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. 4 So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.” – James 1:2-42

I got this verse in James a day after having my profound thought. Now you can call this coincidence if you wish, but I no longer believe in coincidence.

Just remember that God is not your genie in a bottle and He does not have to bless you or answer your prayers. He does do these things but do not get to the point where you become so arrogant that you expect these things from Him. It’s the trials that produce the strength and courage within us to keep us on track and grow our relationship with God to a much deeper level. I know many of you out there are struggling with loving God or believing in Him or maybe you have lost your faith in Him because you seem to have been let down by Him, but check out these comforting words that Jesus spoke to us in John 16:33:

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

The truth is, God has already given us the greatest blessing any of us could ever ask for and if I never see another earthly blessing in my life again, that is fine. That’s why I shall be content and happy in knowing that what Jesus accomplished at the cross was the greatest gift and the most important blessing I could ever receive.

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